Welcome to the first Let’s Talk Art episode, a brand new artist interview series. Written by Posterspy.com founder Jack Woodhams.
Back in 2014 I set up Posterspy.com, a show and tell website dedicated to alternative poster designers. I’m a designer myself, (I don’t quite consider myself an artist) and through my experience of running a platform for artists, I’ve met and made friends with many creatives.
The aim of this series is to explore what it means to be an ‘artist’ and to explore how artists have developed their craft over the years. Throughout the series, I will be chatting with artists from countries all over the world, many of whom have worked for incredible brands such as Disney, Marvel, BBC, 20th Century Fox, Empire Magazine and more!
For this interview, we talk with Doaly, an artist from Birmingham England who has had the chance to work on some really brilliant projects.
So, let´s talk art…
What made you want to become an artist and what were your earliest influences?
I wouldn’t say I ever set out to become an artist, I studied graphic design at university and majored in multimedia design. I’ve since had a successful career in the web industry but I guess like any other creative you want to try and learn new and different things. I always had a passion for drawing as a child so I naturally picked it back up as a hobby while trying to learn and get better.
Movies were always a big part of growing up, as my parents owned a video store, I wasn’t old enough to watch most of the films but I’d spend hours looking at the box art and posters, which were plasters all over my bedroom walls thanks to my two older brothers. Based on the artwork I’d make up my own stories for the films I couldn’t watch and that’s why I gravitated toward creating movie art. I enjoy the art of storytelling and wanted to tell these stories myself in my own way. My earliest influences would be the likes Warhol, Dali, Lichtenstein, Seurat, and Picasso from studying art history at college, I still refer back to a lot of these art movements in my work today.
Would you say your surroundings influenced your art in any way?
I would say my surroundings helped develop my imagination, Bham was a more industrial area when growing up and I was a big daydreamer as a child and still am if I’m honest. I’d constantly be imaging going on adventures to faraway lands and battling dragons. I don’t really battle dragons anymore but I still have an imagination that works overdrive.
Do you feel the poster art movement is celebrated enough or still quite ‘underground’?
I wouldn’t call it underground anymore but at the same time I wouldn’t say it was mainstream, there’s an avid community of collectors out there and I think that’s partly due to IMAX releases of posters and the growing community of casual fans of the movement, they might not know all the names of the artists but they like what an illustrated poster brings over its Photoshop/photograph based counterpart.
You work a lot around Film, TV, and pop culture. How does your love for pop culture transcend into your work?
I wholeheartedly believe that if you can find a love, connection or understanding for the subject you are trying to capture then it will show itself on the page. I feel my best work is based on the properties I have a real passion for and it’s why I revisit them because of that passion.
You are currently part of a global art collective ‘The Poster Posse’. How does it feel and has it aided your creative career?
Being part of the Posse has been one of the biggest help in my career, to have this extended network of friends who understand what you’re going through with your work and there to give advice and an honest critique of your work has been invaluable. It’s a great buddy system that pushes you further with your work, I don’t think I’d have developed as much as I have without the support of the Posse.
Besides the obvious love for film and tv, do you have any other passions that inspire you?
As well as TV and film I’m a big gamer and love to unwind at the end of the day when I really should be sleeping, I have also studied Jeet Kune Do which has helped develop a discipline with my work as well as a mindset that with practice I can learn and get better as long as I stick with it.
You currently use a Cintiq and have also owned Wacom pen tablets in the past. In what way are they are vital to your creative process?
The Wacom tools allow me to quickly get my ideas down and develop them, I often hand sketch ideas when I’m on the move but when I’m at my desk I jump straight on to sketch and develop my ideas. It also allows me to easily try out different mediums to draw and paint with.
You recently had your fan posters for Planet Earth II picked up by the BBC. What encouraged you to create these?
After watching the first program I was instantly inspired by the beautiful cinematography and storytelling, I wanted to try and capture that one episode in a piece, I also wanted to create awareness about the planet we live in and the animals we share it with. As a designer or artist you’re not saving lives but through your work, you can create awareness and help worthwhile causes. I’ve been lucky enough to lend my artistic talents to worthy causes and intend to carry on doing so.
Your style varies greatly. Do you find it easy to dip in and out of styles?
I always try and use the style best suited for the subject matter and I love to explore new techniques. When thinking of ideas I often paint them in a particular style in my head and they very much become key to that piece itself. So when it comes to execution, I’ve pretty much drawn every line in my head, I just now have to recreate it on the computer so it´s never that had jump between styles.
Is there a particular style you prefer?
I often get asked what my style is and it’s not something I can answer as of yet, I would say there’s a few I gravitate towards but I would say what I choose to draw and compositions I create are a better definition of my and not the style I draw them in.
The poster art community has grown a lot in the last years and it seems studios are starting to take notice. What do you predict for the future of this movement?
I still think there is a place for the photography-based movie poster but I think audiences want more than just a few floating heads, alternative posters are getting bigger with reversible sleeves on Blu-ray boxes and limited run posters for opening nights. I see there is an alternative approach for most mainstream movie posters. If illustrated became the mainstream then in time another movement would come along to oppose it.
The poster community is full of artists with different styles, backgrounds, and from countries all over the world. Who are your favourite contemporary artists and why?
There is a massive list of contemporary poster artists and I can say I admire something from most artists, to name a few: Oliver Barrett, Matt Taylor, Francesco Francavilla, and Gary Pullin. These artists have expanded what I thought was possible to create with simple lines and shadows, it’s not always a case of what you draw but what you choose to leave out to allow the mind to fill in the gaps for you.
Do you have any plans for the future regarding your artwork?
I want to keep exploring and trying out new things, I also want to work in more fields, I love movies but there are other stories I went to tell through my work so I guess I’m looking for those new opportunities where I can push myself creatively.
A lot of your work is digital, do you feel digital art gives you more flexibility over traditional methods?
I would definitely say its more flexible working digitally as I’m still not able to press cmd Z on my sketch, but I like to gravitate to an approach which is rooted in an organic style, I want people to still see every stroke in my work. I don’t want to lose myself and have my work become too polished to the extent when you can’t tell its been drawn or painted.
You recently created an official print for Rick and Morty which went up for sale via Bottleneck Gallery in New York. The print sold out almost instantly, how did that feel?
It was a great feeling, I love the show and I wanted my piece to speak to the people who also loved the shows an original sense of humour, so I’m really glad that people appreciated what I put on paper. I already thinking of what next to do for the show so I hope my next piece is as well received.
Many artists find it difficult to consider their work ‘finished’. How do you know when your work is complete?
Deadlines often play a part in that but its when you feel you can´t add anything else to the piece that would make it anymore whole than it is right now. Over time I always want to go back and play with some pieces but that comes with learning more and seeing things with fresh eyes.
Sometimes artists find themselves lost and confused about their work. What helps to keep you focused and motivated?
I think being lost and confused it part of being an artist, there are definitely times where I’m not sure what to do next or where to take my work. For me, it´s best to take a step back from the work and do something completely different, go out and get some fresh air and get away from the screens. It´s these breaks whether they’re just to go out and get some lunch or even a day away from work that gets the creative juices going again.
I sometimes think it’ll be great to take a few weeks off but after a day or so I’m eager to get back to creating something. The worst thing you can do when you´re in a slump is just stare at the screen, break the routine and do something different.
Your work was exhibited last year as part of the Star Wars an Art Odyssey at Le Cafe Pixel. How was this experience for you?
It truly was an amazing experience to have my work exhibited in such a beautiful gallery space, what made it extra special was that I knew every artist in the show and to admire their final work on the wall. It’s not often you get to go to the spaces that exhibit your work so this was something extra special for me.
I also got the chance to meet up with members of the Posse who I hadn’t previously met in person, so that was the icing on the cake.
Was there ever a time you weren’t so fortunate and doubted yourself? If so, how did you cope?
Even though I’ve worked with some great brands and properties I think there’s always going to be a time when you doubt your own skillset. But for me, that’s why it’s great to have such a supportive network of fellow artists that you can talk through the hard times with and you’ll find comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one that goes through this.
If there’s ever a time I’m feeling down about my work I look to be inspired by others, its that inspiration that lights the creative spark in you and I guess I’m fortunate that I can happily play around with styles to keep everything fresh for me.
For aspiring artists reading this who wants to work in the entertainment industry, what advice would you give them to get their work seen?
I would say the Internet has made the world a very small place if you’re passionate about working in the industry then produce the work you’d like to be doing and share it online. Upload it to design/art blogs, use your Instagram and Twitter to share and tag the studios, they love people being passionate about the films they make.
Finally, do you recommend any publications for artists to follow out there looking for inspiration?
I personally subscribe to imagine FX, but the net is vast and infinite and there are many blogs out there that curate amazing work, I also follow xombiedirge.com, pixalry.io, and fromupnorth.com to name a few.
Thank you for reading!
That brings us to the end of this month’s Let’s Talk Art, be sure to follow Wacom on social media to be informed about the next episode. We want to thank Doaly for being such a great interviewee and we´re sure you can agree that his work is simply outstanding.
You can find Doaly